FCI World Dog Show 2014 – Helsinki (FI), 8-10 August

The FCI main conformation event of the year is over and will remain in everybody’s mind as the symbol of what a perfectly well-organised dog show should be.

Year 2014 was for Finland the 125th anniversary of their creation. It was a superb reason for the Finns to apply for hosting the 2014 FCI World Dog Show, 16 years after having had the pleasure to meet the dog scene on the occasion of the 1998 FCI World Dog Show, with an interesting entry of 15,300 dogs.

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Y. De Clercq
FCI Executive Director
Generation Z – Today’s challenge for tomorrow

The problems caused by the generation gap – labelled with phrases like “Back in the day...” and “Youngsters these days...” – have never been as meaningful as they are nowadays. Globalisation and the virtual society created an absolutely new and different generation. The basic and urgent question being whether the canine society has realised it so far and is able to find the proper way to react.

Just imagine a World Dog Show or an IPO qualification utility trial in thirty years.
Meanwhile the catalogue is more than likely to be interactively accessed on your tablet – also showing real-time results as a basic feature. The question occurs whether those who are currently desperately seeking their place in the world - and find it mostly on the World Wide Web - will be eager enough to participate in these mentioned events at all!

Can we be sure enough that the generation connecting to the world via their smart phones will feel the urge to become a part of the canine world at all? Can the coming generation be motivated enough – including the heirs of worldwide-known kennels and descendants of famous Utility or Agility dog handlers and trainers – to gain success and achievement with their enthusiastic work and effort through decades, instead of pushing “like” and checking the latest comments on their posts?

© Zsofcsin Jenő

The currently growing up generation – born between 1995 and 2009, and labelled “Z” – even differs from the previous generation “Y”.
The completed globalisation process demolished all geographical boundaries and terminated any kind of obstacles from free and fast information flaw. The digital society has been forming totally new behaviour and identity of those who are going to fit into the adult society in some years.

It is typical that the virtual reality is an integral and inseparable part of generation “Z”, and that is the reason why these kids are also named as dotcom children. According to current surveys, they are connected most of their times to the internet, gaining and processing incredible amounts of information. Their knowledge is based on immediately accessed, though doubtful and easily digestive information sources, instead of books. They separate themselves from the outer world, considering it as a threatening scene they have no influence on at all.
Most of their social interactions happen in the virtual world as well. Thus they do not really learn to handle frustration of confronting situations, therefore they keep themselves separated from real and personal interaction.
To sum up, they are more separated from reality, than any other generations before, their long-term goals are not so clear, and they live their everyday-life in a world that speeded up extremely.

In case of both breeding and training dogs, achievement in success takes extremely more time and effort than posting a picture and collecting “likes”. Picture a future where the generation is stuck in the virtual reality to gain self-justification and assertiveness. Not too encouraging and real appalling.

The future existence of resupply for the following decades is determined now. In case of defined and mature personalities it is almost impossible to achieve radical improvement later. The very first phase is getting aware of the problem itself. After facing it, we should start to communicate in a special way, addressed to this generation. Finding the solution is a duty for not one man standing, but for society, in this specific case, the doggy world.

For this generation, avoiding conflicts and failure is probably more important than experiencing any sense of achievement. And it is essential to attempt to give a hand in these inevitable situations. If things go wrong or do not turn out as had planned, do not trigger actions or back out in an instance as they usually do: neglect, reject or suspend the disturbing element at the virtual playground!
Enthusiasm is to be kept alive in these situations as well, and the capability and method thereof must be guided and mentored.

As their communication tools are totally different from what we got used to, we have to learn their language. We have to find the proper pedagogical method to establish long-term and steady mentality which leads to enthusiasm, later forming dedication. Basically, it is important to make it possible to gain success and permanent, positive community-related experience, not in the virtual playground, but in pure reality.

The national canine organisations in many countries do not seem to pursue actions as seriously as it would be necessary to handle this problem, which is ticking like a bomb, getting closer to explosion. The communication strategies targeting this generation effectively and in a motivating way are still missing or real barren.

Human psyche uses the gained knowledge in two opposite ways: on the one hand, it remains locked up from the upcoming, more dynamic generation considered as a competitive threat; on the other, you can hand over all the knowledge, and experience gathered through the decades, and as a mentor, it is not threatening at all to acknowledge that when something begins, there is an end point as well. And life still goes on.

This is the problem and duty of all canine organisations, breeders, Utility and sport dog trainers: shrugging off whether someone is going to carry on the age-long heritage of traditional cynology, taking the risk to see the whole process vanishing into memory. Consequently, no one will find a trace of the canine world on facebook, not even mentioning pushing a “like” on it...

Attila Márton
Executive Manager
Hungarian Kennel Club

Our friend Attila shared the contents of this article during the last meeting of the think-tank group NCO-FCI Joint Communication Forum held in Helsinki, in the framework of the World Dog Show 2014,. We recommend you to read it in paralell with the article entitled FCI Youth: the next generation of the FCI , since Attila raised our awareness of these concerns just after the presentation of the FCI Youth initiative. It appears that great minds think alike…

Thank you, Attila, for this questioning perspective !

Marie Luna Durán
FCI Marketing and Public Relations Manager